The Los Angeles Sparks are surging behind the recent solid play of Kristi Toliver, but it remains to be seen if they can sustain that run on the road.
Given Toliver's last performance in Phoenix, there's little reason to believe they can't.Los Angeles seeks a fourth consecutive victory when it visits the struggling Mercury on Tuesday night.The Sparks (13-6) have won three straight home games, beating defending champion Minnesota on Thursday, Seattle on Saturday and finishing the run with a 79-63 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.Los Angeles had lost three straight -- including two on the road -- prior to its winning streak."I'm glad that's done," coach Carol Ross said. "I'm extremely proud of them. Everything's going to get knocked to the mat in this league, but it's how you get up, and I thought we responded to rest. I thought we responded to practice. I think we really focused in on these three home games against three quality opponents."Toliver has been a major reason for the surge, averaging 23.7 points after scoring only 9.7 per game in the previous three defeats. She played all 40 minutes Sunday despite it being the second game of a back-to-back.Candace Parker added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks, who will play their last two games before the Olympic break away from home."We wanted to be greedy and get all these wins at home and take that momentum on the road," Toliver said.Parker didn't play in the Sparks' last road win, but Toliver picked up the slack by scoring a career-high 29 points -- matched Thursday against Minnesota -- to help Los Angeles earn a 93-84 win over Phoenix on June 23.The Sparks have won the season's first three meetings over the Mercury (4-13), who have dropped four straight after an 83-68 loss to Seattle on Sunday.Diana Taurasi hasn't played since scoring 18 points in a 99-88 loss to Los Angeles on May 26, missing the last 14 games with a strained left hip flexor. Candice Dupree also didn't play Sunday's second end of a back-to-back because of a knee contusion.Phoenix, which shot only 32.8 percent against the Storm, were led by DeWanna Bonner's 12 points."Every dog has its day, and it's not our day," coach Corey Gaines said. "We'll be back one day."Bonner scored 24 points and Samantha Prahalis added 22 in the Mercury's most recent defeat against the Sparks, but Prahalis was held to six while Bonner netted 18 in a 90-74 loss June 8.Toliver has averaged 20.3 points in the three meetings, while Parker has averages of 25.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two matchups she's played.